I walk north, across Broadway, down the big hill, onto the track where I have tentatively started running again, onto the bus. My accordion is a heavy bulk on my back but I have time to snap a picture as I walk; red berries against a brown background. It's January, but I am bare-legged as I walk. A testament both to the mildness of our winters here and to the heat of seniors homes, which is where my accordion and I are headed today. I learned my lesson after the first few visits: wear as little as decently possible or perish in a pool of your own sweat!
The home I'm playing at is a religious one; the staff are kind and the residents are the usual mix of avid and comatose. It is a birthday party: the lodge has a monthly party and celebrates the birthdays of everyone born in that particular month with music and cake. Wayne introduces each "celebrant", and also takes a moment to acknowledge the centenarians in the crowd. Wow, there are a number of people in the audience (all women, unsurprisingly; women live longer) who are over sixty years older than me, and I'm no longer a spring chicken. Some of the elders take a well-earned nap, but I hear a strong baritone singing along to "Blueberry Hill", and when I swing into "Hey Good-Lookin'" two ladies on my left clap and harmonize with glee. I try to pick a mix of unknowns and singalongs. "Danny Boy", which I have grown to like, always gets 'em. But the rock-'n'roll/country numbers like "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Oh Lonesome Me" get enthusiastic responses too. I am reminded again that unless they are the really old ones, today's seniors grew up listening to Chuck Berry and Elvis (time to add some of the King to my playlist I guess).
When I get home I decide to take the old dog to the corner store with me, since bladder/bowel control are becoming things of the past for him these days. Probably the same for some of the folks I played for this afternoon, sadly.